I Think The New No Man's Sky Update Makes Me Sad


#1

“We knew we were working on a polarising game, and while there’s no way to communicate that, I thought we were making it clear that No Man’s Sky was a weird lonely experience. But some people were looking at our trailers and thinking it was Star Wars, when really it’s more like 2001!”

This is a Sean Murray quote from a recent Games Rader interview and it kind of makes me sad. This is the type of game I always thought they were trying to sell and it’s the game I wanted. I remember the original pitch was basically “1970s scifi art but a video game”.

So, I feel like this new update pretty much scraps all that to go with the Star Wars style game that I guess most people wanted it to be. I liked all the mystery and loneliness of No Man’s Sky because it really did feel like an old scifi book cover. It might not have anything to do with whats in the book but the covers were always mysterious “who is that character? What is the building in the background? who lives on that planet on the horizon?” But now everything in game is known. The player character are all just aliens from this galaxy and not a mystery. People are owning big capital ships and building bases and it feels like all awe and mystery have been lost.


#2

This was a classic case of hype leading to scope creep leading to unrealistic expectations. Like you, I expected No Man’s Sky to be a lonely an enigmatic experience. But I also expected that it would be a game that I would play for a bit at release, get what I wanted from the experience, and never touch it again. Y’know, like almost every other game. Unfortunately, fans at large expected a forever game, and Hello felt beholden to that (and they’re not off the hook for stoking that hype either). So what NMS is today is that forever game that people wanted. It sucks, but I suppose we can simply install a day one version of the game and have our cake as well.


#3

Have they said that you can’t opt out of the multiplayer? If so then perhaps there is still a way to have that solo space journey. If not then I too am sad. Building bases anywhere sounds cool though.


#4

You should go read our interview with Sean, which touches on this:


#5

Link’s broken Austin.

EDIT: It seems to only be broken in Internet Explorer. My bad.


#6

I played a fair amount of No Man’s Sky following the Atlas Rises update (which added rudimentary multiplayer and more ways for players to co-ordinate gatherings) and for what it’s worth, that experience was still extremely lonely and meditative. As Sean speaks to in the Waypoint piece, I simply think they’re expanding the ways for players to enjoy NMS. It could be a first-person, permadeath survival game played by yourself, a third-person co-op base-building sim, a story driven experience that ruminates on the weird connectivity of the space, or some mix of all of those.

For all that’s been said about how much variety of scenery & interaction the procedural generation in No Man’s Sky can actually muster, the sheer scale of the universe it generates is still such that you could find yourself totally isolated from all the other people playing the game, which was partially what made the game so appealing to me in the first place. I don’t think the updates have necessarily lost that, though I’ll be curious to see how I feel after playing Next.


#7

The thing that would make this feel way, way less weird, irksome and even depressing is if the idea of game archival, even of actual modern still-supported games, wasn’t still broken. The readings of NMS 1.0’s feelings of crushing, bizarre and self-contradictory loneliness is at least somewhat reliant on online features that can’t be replicated in the form they existed in then. You can try to engage with it the same way and maybe you’ll succeed at doing just that by self-imposed rule, but the whole text has been changed and there’s no getting away from that. It encourages engaging it differently, the read is changed no matter what you as an individual do.

Plus i mean, have fun constantly ignoring all the space aliens that now speak your native language perfectly so you can get right to base building even though the original release had a thruline of needing to translate from bits of known lexicons which made it unique but now that’s more of an inconsistent novelty waheyyyyy.

That’s not all strictly bad shit, though. Sure it ends up validating some of the many complexes of cynical gamer clickbait/consumer advocate culture garbage, and i personally wish they’d leaned more into the challenging creative choices, but wanting to make your space game have more tropey-but-harmless base building mechanics & co-op or whatever because your audience kept wishing for it isn’t repugnant by any means.

The real bummer is that the way the text once existed has been utterly erased, in such a specific way that it will never exist as a whole the way it did only two years ago ever again. It’s one thing for a fancy-pants remake to be considered by Gamers Tee-Emm to be so The Best that it should erase the classic version, because to many other people, the two versions can still co-exist, and a trend in cultural perception will not necessarily actually erase the art it neglects. Here though, the infrastructure ensures that technological progress will lead to inescapable erasure, and that’s unfortunately not an uncommon thing in games now, doubly so for relying on network use.


#8

You make a really good point. It’s impossible to feel the same way others felt when it first launched, because that thing doesn’t exits anymore. I guess the closest you can get is watching an archived video from that time, but we all know that isn’t the same thing.


#9

What I originally liked about No Man’s Sky is the idea of being an archaeologist or a geographer in an unknown and alien land. I could fly down to a planet and makeup in my head how things were the way they were “how did that animal evolve to be like that? How did this landscape form?” And if felt like the difference between exploration and tourism. It was dangerous and you felt cut off from everything familiar.

Sure there were other living beings but they were different from you and you didn’t understand them and they didn’t understand you. Hell, you didn’t understand you because you didn’t even know what YOU were.

Maybe if you are able to find abandoned player bases dotting lost planets that could be cool? Thinking up scenarios about why the place was abandoned and when. I’m not sure if thats even possible tho.

One of my favourite quotes from Night In The Woods is:

“They went looking for the Gods
and died in lonely places”

And that’s kind of what I like doing in No Man’s Sky? I want to go off looking for significance where there is none and die on a lonely barren planet at the edge of the universe as math-synth plays as I look up at distant stars.


#10

tbh this is what I was looking for in the game to a large extent and I was pretty disappointed that every planet was already inhabited/colonized. It’s hard to feel like I’m exploring the galaxy when there’s a trade outpost over the next hill.